The Crusader Newspaper Group

Actor Jussie Smollett released from jail as he appeals conviction

Six days after he began serving 150 days behind bars for lying to police about a fake hate crime, actor Jussie Smollett was released from jail as his attorneys appeal his conviction.

An appeals court ruled 2-1 to release Smollett after the “Empire” actor posted a personal recognizance bond of $150,000, meaning he doesn’t have to put down money but agrees to come to court as required.

Surrounded by security, Smollett walked out of the Cook County Jail Wednesday evening, March 16, after spending six days behind bars. He reportedly got into an awaiting SUV before it drove off.

Smollett defense attorney Nenye Uche, speaking to reporters outside the jail after Smollett left, said the Smollett family is “very very happy with today’s developments.”

According to news reports, Uche said the first thing Smollett did when he learned of his release was “push his hands on the glass between them. And his eyes got teary, and he said he nearly lost hope in the U.S. constitutional system. I think he had nearly given up.”

In December, Smollett was convicted of five felony counts of disorderly conduct after he lied to Chicago police about a racist and homophobic hate crime in 2019 in Streeterville. Smollett, who is Black and gay, reported to Chicago police that two men wearing ski masks beat him up and put a noose around his neck. The investigation eventually turned on Smollett himself after the two men said Smollett paid them to beat him up.

The men testified in court against Smollett before a jury convicted the actor. Smollett maintained his innocence during the trial. During sentencing Smollett shouted at the judge that he was innocent, warning the court that he was not suicidal and if he died in custody it was somebody else, and not him, who would have taken his life.

Judge James Linn sentenced Smollett last week [March 10] to 150 days in jail as part of a 30-month sentence that includes probation. With good behavior, Smollett could have been released in as little as 75 days.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dropped all charges against the actor, sparking public outcry that led to the appointment of Special Prosecutor Dan Webb, who handed the case to a grand jury that charged Smollett with six counts of felony disorderly conduct.

Uche criticized Special Prosecutor Webb’s decision to charge Smollett again after Foxx had dropped the charges against his client.

“Let me make something clear: There is no room for politics in our court system, and our appellate courts in this great state do not play politics,” Uche said.

Smollett’s attorneys had been pushing for his released since his sentence on March 10.

Smollett’s attorneys had argued that he would have completed the sentence by the time the appeal process was completed, and that Smollett could be in danger of physical harm if he remained locked up in Cook County Jail.

The office of the special prosecutor disagreed and said those claims about Smollett’s health and safety being at risk were “factually incorrect.” Smollett reportedly was held in protective custody at the jail, but his siblings and relatives remained concerned about his safety as a Black and gay man locked up in one of the most notorious jails in the country.

A jury convicted Smollett in December on five felony counts of disorderly conduct — the charge filed when a person lies to police. He was acquitted on a sixth count.

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